Kayaks may be swift and nimble in the water. But on land they’re heavy, cumbersome, and difficult to maneuver. If you’ve ever had to lug a fully loaded yak with stodgy handles down a steep embankment you’ll understand why wheels are absolutely necessary. Since kayaks vary so greatly in shape and size it’s natural that kayak carts would come in a wide range of designs.
There’s a plethora of different kayak cart brands and models, but only some of them are worth your time. We’ve rounded up the best totes for your boat below.
Railblaza C Tugs
This Kiwi born kayak cart is instantly recognizable thanks to its distinctive black and green coloring, as well as its modular approach to kayak transportation. Railblaza’s C Tug Canoe and Kayak cart is a lightweight and versatile kayak cart that can readily support watercraft up to 260 lbs. Rugged plastic construction keeps weight to just 10 lbs while still providing plenty of strength and rigidity for heavy loads.
The C Tug breaks down to its base components quickly, and without any tools, which is perfect for under-hatch storage. Articulating bow supports adjust to match hull shape and no-slip pads provide a solid connection to your craft. Innovative airless sand wheels are also available for beach-goers. A kickstand keeps things stable while you’re loading, and an optional connector provides the opportunity to double up carts for heavier loads.
The C Tug is a nifty cart that’s perfect for transporting skinnier conventional hull yaks. Kayaks with deep chines, such as trimaran and cathedral style hulls, don’t provide sufficient purchase for a solid connection even with a ratchet strap. All in all the C Tug is an awesome kayak cart for rolling your ride through sand and grass.
The Kayak Cart
There are kayak carts. And then there’s The Kayak Cart. A newer entry to the cart game this handy boat tote sports some high end design at a low end price. The kayak cart takes advantage of a simplistic but strong design that keeps the total weight below 3 lbs, but is still capable of supporting up to 120 lbs on its airless 7″ tires. A plastic cradle securely hugs yaks with steep bows and deep keels. And built in straps with clips ensure a solid connection to your craft.
Measuring just 13″ wide, 10″ high, and 10″ long the kayak cart is one of the most compact options on this list and can fit through oval hatches with ease. The unique cradle on this cart makes it great for sit-in kayaks, but won’t work nearly as well on wide beamed sit on tops. If you’re more into paddling then fishing then this should be near the top of your list.
Wilderness Systems Heavy Duty Kayak Cart
Big kayaks need big kayak carts. And no other cart has as high a weight capacity as the Wilderness Systems Heavy Duty Kayak Cart. Square aluminum tubing provides ample strength to support up to 450 lbs (with airless tires). Adjustable support bars can be easily fitted for conventional hulled kayaks or widened to fit between chines on high-stability fishing kayaks. Two 12″ airless plastic tires are strong enough to wheel over rough terrain with ease. And optional inflatable sand wheels give beach goers easy access to the surf.
The WS Heavy Duty Kayak Cart is the go-to option for larger fishing kayaks like the Bonafide SS127, Old Town AutoPilot, and Hobie Pro-Angler. But it’s great for smaller yaks as well because of its wide wheel base and adjustable supports. Disassembly without tools is easy, but it’s not as compact as other carts on this list. More than likely you’ll store it fully assembled in the rear tankwell or stashed in your car.
The only feature missing from Wilderness System’s Cart is a kickstand. It might not seem like a big deal, but loading up on a boat ramp will quickly make you want one. Finally this Cart is not cheap – but the high quality components and weight capacity make this one of the few viable for options for bigger boats. If you’ve got a kayak with a deep-chined hull then this is one of your best options for over-land transportation.
Hobie Plug In Cart
Hobie’s well known for making some truly awesome kayaks. And they’re also known for some incredibly large kayaks. The Hobie Pro-Angler 14 tips the scales at 144 lbs, and that’s before you add any rods and reels. Hobie’s solution to hauling around big boats is the Hobie Plug In Cart; a scupper hole mounted cart designed to fit with a variety of Hobie models.
The Plug In cart series is composed of four different scupper mounted carts. Each features stainless steel construction and varying wheel size that corresponds to intended weight and terrain. The Trax 2 (pictured) features 9.5′ pneumatic tires, which are great for beach goers. A clamp at the top of each post ensures a snug fit when pushed into the scupper holes. They can be broken down, but most paddlers prefer to keep these put together.
Hobie’s line of scupper mount carts are super effective once they’re on the boat. Getting them mounted in the scuppers though, can be a challenge, and it’s often the chief complaint about these types of carts. In a truckbed, or floating in the water, scupper holes are easy enough to access. But getting these wheels attached on dry land by yourself can be a huge pain.
Finally you shouldn’t try to use these types of kayak carts on other models. In many kayaks the scupper holes are some of the weakest parts of the vessel. Using a scupper mounted kayak cart on a yak that wasn’t designed for it accelerates wear and tear and can easily cause catastrophic failure. Before you put anything other than a plug in your scupper holes be sure to check the instruction manual.
One of the most cumbersome processes of moving a kayak is loading it onto the cart. And this is doubly hard for anybody running a large yak loaded up with gear. Balancing 100+ lbs of boat and gear off the bow while maneuvering a cart into place will break a sweat and cause a cuss real quick. Once you’ve finally got the wheels in place the last step is to secure them with straps, otherwise you’ll be running it back with some even stronger language.
Boonedox saw the difficulties inherent in solo-loading heavy fishing kayaks and decided to do something about it. The result is the Boonedox Groovy Landing Gear. Groovy Landing Gear eliminates loading frustrations with a simple lift and flip motion. Wheels rotate around deck mounted bearings to deploy on land and store neatly. No more fumbling around with carts and straps – just flip, launch, and flip again.
The Landing Gear system is awesome for moving big fishing yaks, but there are a few considerations. This system places a lot of stress on HDPE hulls and can easily rip your kayak apart if installed incorrectly. Be sure to do your research and confirm compatibility – several kayak makers strongly advise against using Landing Gear on certain models. In addition this system adds quite a bit of girth to the width of your yak, which could affect the fit in truck beds and tailgate supports. Boonedox currently makes custom kits for the Hobie Outback, Pro Angler, Bonafide models, and more.
The Malone WideTrak Heavy Duty Kayak Cart is a budget friendly option that’s suitable for a wide range of yaks. This cart supports 250 lbs via 12″ airless tires on a 33″ wide frame. Removable foam padded bunks ensure capability with any hull type – deep chines are no problem with bunks on. The collapsible frame folds flat for compact storage. And the integrated dual kickstand is handy for keeping things stationary.
This is one of the more popular kayak carts for yak anglers because it can accommodate all but the heaviest kayaks, and it’s a great value. The Malone WideTrak has just about every feature you could want in a cart: it’s lightweight, has a kickstand, supports chined hulls, and folds flat. Really the only downside with this cart is that it’s not optimal for under hatch storage. The wheels are easily removable, but the main frame is meant to stay together, so stowing it under your deck is entirely dependent on the size of your hatch. All in all it’s a minor concern on an otherwise awesome cart.
Paddleboy All Terrain Cart
Big wheels offer some big advantages. In addition to being able to support more weight they also tend to roll over sticks, roots, and rocks with considerably less effort than smaller wheels. The Paddleboy All Terrain Cart (ATC) employs oversized 13″ urethane tires that can tackle bumpy grounds and rocky mounds with no trouble. A powder-coated steel frame provides structure for loads up to 300 lbs and a width of 30.5″ will readily fit wider craft, even a modest jon boat.
The Paddleboy ATC excels at transporting heavy flat-bottom craft. Fully loaded canoes, tricked out jon boats, and fat bottom kayaks will all benefit from rock solid wheels on the ATC. Paddlers have cautioned that trimaran style hulls rub against the wheels on the ATC, so for those rocking extra-stable yaks consider yourself warned. For everybody else this center mounted cart offers a rugged solution against rugged terrain. It’s also the only cart on this list that can double as a bike carrier (via optional upgrade kit).
Suspenz Smart Airless Cart
There are lots of folding style kayak carts out there. It’s by far the most ubiquitous construction style since it’s relatively simple and cheap. You’ve seen this cart in some form at big box stores and sporting outlets. Most times this style of cart is terrible. The components are cheap, the wheels are bad, and worst of all; the cart closes during transport. One bump on the wheel and the frame folds shut leaving your yak to nosedive into the dirt.
Luckily the Suspenz smart cart addresses the typical pitfalls of folding carriers to deliver a quality cart that will keep things rolling. Upgraded hardware and robust components make the Suspenz one of, if not the, best folding kayak cart out there. Cam-less ratchet straps will secure your load without digging into the hull. And rubber pads will provide better grip than far more common foam coverings Airless tires can be swapped for pneumatics with an optional upgrade kit.
The Suspenz Smart Cart is best suited for sit-in kayaks or narrow single hull fishing kayaks. Catamaran and trimaran style hulls won’t sit properly without some modification. Finally we realize that the Suspenz Smart Cart isn’t inexpensive, especially compared to cheaper versions you’ll find in the store. We’re strong advocates of the “Buy Once, Cry Once” philosophy and this is a clear cut case where the extra expense is justified.
Overview on Kayak Carts
Kayak carts are a necessity for modern day watercraft. It simply isn’t feasible to drag a 100 lb + boat more than a a couple yards before you’re tuckered. Before you click the buy button on any cart though make sure it’s compatible with your rig. Manufacturers typically provide guidance on cart styles to avoid (especially scupper). Finally pay attention to your width and hull shape – that triple chined 3′ wide hull isn’t going to work well on a small folding cart. Let us know how you prefer to portage and happy paddling!